Thursday, May 9, 2013

You Can't Have It

I think I've donated 7000 shekel to the City of Modiin.  Maybe they will erect a statue of me.

See, you get this property tax bill here.  At the beginning of the year they send you a (paper) bill.

Once your first year after aliyah is over and you are a regular Joe (or Ziv) here, the bill no longer has a oleh discount and is for a humongous amount of money (ref the 7000 shekel).  You can choose to pay it all at once or in installments, and you let them know how you wish to do this.  You can do this on their website.

I am a good citizen (I did not yet know HOW good I was, but let's continue) so I went immediately to the website and chose to pay the bill in 3 installments.  I gave them my bank-issued credit card number and poof!  It was done.  I even got a nice thank you email.

In my next bank statement I saw that indeed installment #1 had been paid.  Excellent, I thought, I sure am smart - I know what to do.

All was well until about 6 weeks ago when I received another paper bill from the property tax office - quoting the same amount that was due.   Huh.  I read that sucker over and over (by now I am not so bad at reading bills in Hebrew) and could not figure out where, if anywhere, they noted that I had already committed to pay this amount over 3 installments.

So I decided to go to their website and put in my information to check my account.  That would tell me that they had recorded that I had set up the payments.

It told me I still owed 7000 shekel.  Then I figured that the property tax was really 14000 shekel, which was alarming but nothing about money is alarming after living in Israel for a year.  So I figured I'd go through the motions of paying again and maybe then it would tell me that I had already paid.

Nope, they took my 7000 shekel (which unfortunately I had NOT chosen to pay in 3 installments) and gladly sucked it right up into the Ministry of whatever.  I imagined the ministry workers throwing my 100 shekel notes around gleefully, planning a big office party.  "We got another one!  Hahaha!  She paid twice!  Wheeee!  We love our jobs!"

Hmmm.  Then I got worried and planned my trip to the Property Tax office.  This is not easy for me. See, I have to go through several steps:

1. Decide there is a need to go to the office
2. Figure out what I want to say
3. Figure out how to say it in Hebrew
4. Practice how to say it in Hebrew
5. Ask one of my daughters to accompany me.
6. Be nervous about it for weeks.
7. Finally decide it has to be THIS WEEK
8.  Not sleep the night before
9. Have a terrible stomach ache the day of
10. Get in the car and go. 
11. Feel the headache coming on.

So Gila and I actually went.  When I sat down and started talking, Gila looked at me weirdly, which only later I realized was because she didn't realize my Hebrew was good enough to get through this conversation (yay! proud of myself!).  I started to tell the woman what happened and she finished my sentence, ..."so you paid twice.  Yeah, it happens a lot."

She went through all kinds of calculations and typing things onto her computer and talking to her supervisor, and then assured me that we would see a refund in our bank account soon.  "How soon?"  I asked stupidly.  "Soon."

So I waited for about a month and not only did we not get a refund, but the first installment of the second 7000 shekel payment showed up as paid.

Back to the office.  This time with my husband.  "Ok," she tells me, "we can't actually refund the money to you but we can refund it to the bank."  Huh.  What does that mean?  "Don't worry," she says, "you'll get the money back."

We leave the office.  I am now pretty certain that we've given the city a 7000 shekel gift.  Hope they use it in good health. 

Then...the next day (WEIRD) we receive yet another property tax bill.  This one shows that THEY owe US money.  So now I will erect a statue to them.

In other news, we were at a supermarket yesterday and when the cashier came upon the bottle of Listerine we wanted to buy, she scanned it and then looked at me disapprovingly.  Then she asked me something. I thought she asked me if I wanted to take advantage of a bargain where I could get 2 for 50, so I said yes because I wanted her to like me.

But then she took the bottle, scanned it again, and put it aside.  Oh, I thought, I'm not getting that bottle, am I.  After a minute or two I realized that what she actually said was, "This is 50 shekel, you don't want it, do you?  Do you want me to delete it from the bill?"  See, it takes me a while to translate....

So, wanting to make friends, I thanked her for saving me from the awful sin of spending too much on mouthwash and agreed that it was very expensive. 

She was so happy that I agreed and now we are besties.


1 comment:

  1. The city of Jerusalem took 4000 shekels out of my bank account because they screwed up our Arnona from last year. Meanwhile, we already paid the 7000 shekel for this year. They have had my $ for 5 months already and we are getting the craziest run-around trying to get it back. I HATE hora'at keva!